Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Pre-Rehearsals

Keith Dunphy (Macduff) talks to Adopt An Actor about the 2010 production of Macbeth. In this first interview, he discusses his experience of Shakespeare at school, how he became an actor, his initial impressions of the play and the first day of rehearsals.

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Time: 6 minutes, 37 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Ryan Nelson:

Hello and welcome to the Adopt an Actor podcasts for this season’s production of Macbeth. I’m here with Keith Dunphy who’s playing Macduff in this year’s production, and I’m just going to jump straight in with what was your experience of Shakespeare like at school.

Keith Dunphy:

Well, particularly my experience of Shakespeare was none. I got into Shakespeare quite late in my life; I didn’t really have any concept of Shakespeare until I was about 19 or 20, 'cause I left school when I was very very young. So my experience of Shakespeare was just by doing some monologues when I was starting out as an actor. But my overall experience of Shakespeare only really happened to me when I met a wonderful old tutor when I went to RADA. That sort of opened up my world to Shakespeare really, so my experience is quite late.

RN:

And how did you make that step into becoming an actor then after leaving school?

KD:

Well I left school when I was 15, and then I did lots of different stuff and then I met a group of people in Ireland (obviously where I’m from!) that put me into some shows and stuff like that and from there I just moved into working. At the time the government were doing a scheme which allowed two people to work with a professional theatre company and they were kind of paid a minimum amount of wages. So that was actually really really good for me, that’s how I joined a professional theatre company as a really young guy and then I built it up from there.

And over the years I did lots of stuff with them, not just acting but actually the whole gamut of the theatre. I learnt lots of stuff, toured, and then I was kind of pushed into maybe going away and trying to pursue maybe a final sort of training.

RN:

Have you done much Shakespeare in your professional life then? I know you’ve been here before…

KD:

Yeah, I’ve been here before nine years ago, I think. I have done a lot, it’s funny when I say I came to it quite late, after that a lot of my career has been, I suppose, top-heavy with Shakespeare. I’ve worked a lot, extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company, I’ve worked here at the Globe as well, and other Shakespeares, Regents Park as well, so a lot of my career has been working with the “Bard”, as they say.

RN:

Have you worked on Macbeth before, or were you familiar with it?

KD:

Yeah, I knew of the play, yeah, I’ve worked on it before, yeah, I knew of the play.

RN:

Have you had any impressions of what it’s about or what Macduff is like as a character?

KD:

Well, I mean Macduff … I don’t even like to make too many assumptions about a character even when I’ve finished doing a play, which probably sounds strange. But I suppose he’s the archetypal man of honour, he’s a right-hand man, he’s a family man and I think that’s very important, I think, he’s a family man, the family come first and King second, I think. But the most important thing I think is that he’s ... the honour code of the times, whenever, I mean, it’s hard for us to discuss honour now these days, we see honour in a very different way. But, I think he’s a good man to have on your side.

RN:

Moving into then the period just before rehearsals, do you prefer to do research on your character before starting rehearsals, or do you prefer to come with no assumptions?

KD:

I like to keep things very much open. The research I would do for me - the way I call it is "survival tactics" with Shakespeare. I basically read the play, have a think about it, not make too many assumptions about it because I don’t think that’s a good thing, and first and foremost the only work I would put in is understanding what I’m saying, and if the rehearsal time periods sometimes are short, it depends on different jobs you do, and houses you work in, RSC or the Globe, but you won’t have time usually in rehearsals, it’s good to do that work at home. We call it donkey work, dog work, to really understand what you’re saying, and I mean really, and that takes time to do, I think.

RN:

By that you do mean almost paraphrasing?

KD:

Absolutely, I do that a lot to try to make it not sound like Shakespeare but that you’re talking I think That’s hard to do that really well.

RN:

And then the last question really for this interview is: with that first day of rehearsals a lot of people might not know actually what that involves, so what did you get up to and how did you find it?

KD:

Well first of all there’s obviously a great anticipation, you meet new people, some people, you know, if you’re working around, you meet some people you know, particularly this production I know one or two guys I’ve worked with before which was lovely. So you’ll have that anticipation of not knowing people, you’ll get an introduction, you’ll meet people, you’ll get to know people, you’ll be shown a model of the set, particularly with the Globe’s wonderful made up model. The director will say her views or what she feels, particularly with Lucy Bailey, you know, she’ll have a particular way she wants the play to go. You’ll discuss stuff like that. We have a choreographer [Javier De Frutos] on this one, he’s a very very well known and very inventive choreographer, and his meeting, with Lucy’s is very interesting so he was describing his kind of way that he would work with actors as opposed to dancers, which is very different. And then we did a warm-up that nearly killed us all…

RN:

What did that involve?

KD:

Well, there’s a lad on this particular production. Michael [Camp, Captain], that works a lot with Javier, and he’s also in this show and he’s a fantastic actor and he’s a great physical performer as well. So he’s taking the warm-ups, and he’s ... I suppose the only term is to say is "ridiculously fit"! So his whole method behind the madness is that he’s slowly over the last number of weeks building up our stamina and strength in our bodies because the Globe does require a very physical performance.

RN:

Wonderful, well hopefully we’ll hear more about that next week when we actually get into rehearsals. Thank you very much.

KD:

Absolutely. Thank you.

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